Field Study Identifying Barriers and Delays in Data-to-Decision with Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference Paper uri icon


  • This paper reports on lessons learned in rapidly getting data from a small tactical unmanned aerial system (sUAS) to an incident commander during a 2012 high fidelity hazardous materials exercise. In order to capture the Public Safety data-to-decision path, observational data was collected on three flights of an AirRobot 100B sUAS, used extensively by the US Army, with HazMat specialists as part of a chemical train derailment exercise at the 2012 Summer Institute at Disaster City®. The Summer Institute found that (i) the data path requires an average of 4 steps to go from the field to the incident commander, (ii) there is no standard data format which reduces the value of the data nor agreed upon paths for submission which leads to 'broken' paths, (iii) redundant data-to-decision paths are essential in order to ensure information flow, and (iv) the average time from when the data was seen by the sUAS to its arrival at incident command was 27.8 minutes. The observations also led to three recommendations for companies producing devices: (i) sUAS should have a reliable capability to record to USB flash drive; (ii) all video and photographic imagery should have the relevant GPS and heading information embedded in the data; and (iii) systems should have the ability to provide cellular and wireless transmission capabilities (including web browsers and email) as responders may not have access to public phone Wi-Fi and internal Ethernet networks. The analysis also suggests that current measures of quality of service (QoS) focus only on device-to-device transfer rates, not the when the decision maker sees the data and if it is in a form to act upon. © 2013 IEEE.

author list (cited authors)

  • Duncan, B. A., & Murphy, R. R.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • November 2013